This paper discusses the role of modularity in the knowledge elicitation component of a natural language processing system. The system at hand, Expedition, is intended to develop the capability for fast deployment of a machine translation (MT) system between any so-called “low-density” language (one lacking significant machine-tractable resources) and English.1 The knowledge-elicitation component of Expedition, called Boas, guides non-expert human informants through questions about the morphology, syntax, lexical stock, and ecology. The linguistic challenges for the developers of Boas can be summarized as follows: how does one gather all the necessary information about all the phenomena that can occur in any natural language in a way that is both understandable to a non-expert informant and machine tractable without post-elicitation human intervention?
McShane, Marjorie and Ron Zacharski. 2001. Proceedings of the Third Annual High Desert Linguistics Conference. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, April 7-9, 2000. 93-104. (PDF)